Learn the History of the Caloosahatchee

Proposed canal connecting Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee

SCCF’s Policy Director, Rae Ann Wessel, is to be featured speaker at the Captiva Island Historical Society’s final program of the 2017 season. Rae Ann’s passion for the river’s current condition stems from a long time understanding of its history. Join the Captiva Island Historical Society on Wednesday, April 5th, at 5:30 pm.

The Caloosahatchee was once a meandering stream which started in a little area known as Lake Flirt just east of LaBelle. The need to get vegetables and fruit to market as well as efforts to drain the swamp, advanced the concept of an inland canal network.

Farmers, many of whom moved south when several frost events further north, caused an increase in settlement along the banks of the Caloosahatchee. Steamers plied the waters laden with citrus and vegetables shipped downstream were bound for markets out of ports at Punta Rassa and Boca Grande.

Rae Ann’s recounting of the history of food to market and changes to the river will take place at the Captiva Civic Association building on April 5. The Captiva Island Historical Society event, sponsored by Sanibel Captiva Trust Company will start with a reception on the patio at 5:30 followed by Rae Ann’s presentation at 6 pm.

Rae Ann Wessel, SCCF’s Natural Resource Policy Director, works diligently with decision makers and motivating local residents to become engaged in the political process. This is a program of a different sort for Rae Ann allowing her to express her deep understanding of the waterway’s changes and honor her mentor Charles Foster aka River Rat whose life on the river spanned nearly all of the 20th century.

SCCF Hosts Water Forum with U.S. Congressman and Sanibel’s Mayor

Weighing in on the Water, a February 9 town hall event, was hosted by SCCF at the Bailey Homestead Pavilion and moderated by SCCF’s Natural Resource Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel.  In introducing U.S. Congressman Francis Rooney and Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane, she framed both the economic and ecological impacts from poor water management as key issues that must be addressed at  the local, state, and federal levels to improve water quality in the Everglades and Southwest Florida.

“There is insufficient capacity to store, treat and move water,” said Wessel. “We need new ways of doing restoration, and science needs to be the basis of all the solutions we pursue.”
Congressman Rooney briefed approximately 200 constituents on his efforts to address Southwest Florida’s water quality issues at the federal level.

“We don’t need new legislative authorization, we need funds to be appropriated for multiple Everglades Restoration projects authorized since 2007,” said Rooney.

The Congressman went on to say his first acts since taking office on January 20 were all focused on water quality for his district and Florida. He cited his one-on-one visits with members of the House Appropriations Committee, arguing for Everglades restoration funding. He also shared the letter he crafted and sent to President Trump, on which he secured the signatures of every member of Florida’s House delegation on Capitol Hill. (See a pdf of the letter here). The letter asks that the Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget “strongly support Everglades restoration projects, especially those within the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP).”

“This was an extraordinary achievement for a recently arrived freshman member of Congress,” said Wessel. “The letter was bipartisan and included every House member representing Florida in Washington.  Advocates fighting for Everglades restoration and water quality have never had that demonstration of unanimous congressional support before Congressman Rooney brought this focus on water to Washington.”

City of Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane expressed his appreciation for Congressman Rooney’s efforts at the federal level, particularly in the way they complement the efforts Ruane is working to spearhead.

“We have worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and have gained their commitment to accelerate – to 2018 rather than 2021 – the design and planning process for a flow way for storage and cleaning south of Lake Okeechobee,” said Ruane.

The Mayor went on to speak in detail about his initiative to engage the 19 counties and 163 cities affected by poor water quality. These counties and cities represent 55% of Florida’s real estate values. Combined with their tourism income, the economic impact of poor water quality is $2 trillion. “If you’re in Tallahassee, that number is hard to ignore,” said Ruane.

The mayor has taken a leading role in bringing together the cities to work together in seeking state-level support, such as advancing the passage of Senate Bill 10 (SB10) to purchase 60,000 acres south of Lake O.  He told the audience to watch for planned efforts to highlight these issues during the Florida legislative session beginning March 7.

SCCF encourages you to forward this email to friends and neighbors, asking them to sign up for SCCF action alerts and become engaged in pressing our elected officials to take positive actions for moving restoration forward to protect our economy and water resources. Click here to sign up for our Action Alerts. 

Vote Yes on Conservation 20/20 & No on Amendment 1 November 8th!

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Whether you vote absentee or in person your vote is crucial in this year’s general election.

For the past 20 years the Conservation 20/20 program supported by taxpayers in 1996 has been hugely successful in protecting 25,000 acres of wild spaces all across Lee County. These preserves provide vital quality of life, environmental and economic benefits by helping to protect waterways and drinking water supplies, preserving wildlife habitat and offering recreational opportunities for residents and visitors that drive our tourism economy.

The willing seller program was conceived in the early 1990s when Lee County had the lowest percentage of conservation lands of all Gulf Coast counties. Lee County continues to be one of Florida’s fastest growing counties but ranks only 39th of 67 counties in total conservation land and ranks 61 of 67 in acres preserved per person.

Lee County’s tourism generates $3 billion dollars per year for our local economy. An economic study of the program concluded that tourist spending funded one full time job for every 2.6 acres of land conserved. Visitors report that Lee’s clean unspoiled environment is a key reason for choosing Lee County. This election we vote to continue this hugely successful program that balances conservation preserves with developed areas to provide and protect our clean economy.

Let’s Continue the Success! On November 8 Vote Yes on Conservation 20/20 – Learn more here!

Support More Solar in the Sunshine State ~ Vote No on Amendment 1

unnamedAmendment 1 threatens Florida’s solar energy growth even as Florida is already experiencing impacts from sea level rise. We must promote, not inhibit, the use of clean sources of energy.

Here are three reasons to vote No on Amendment 1 this November:

1. It’s funded by Florida’s big utilities to protect their monopolies and limit customer-owned solar.

2. It paves the way for barriers that would penalize solar customers.

3. It promises rights and protections that Florida citizens already have.

Florida Power and Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric and Gulf Power created a political committee called Consumers for Smart Solar to craft this deceptive amendment to codify the utility’s ability to limit customer owned solar by imposing fees and penalties on solar customers.

Over 85 organizations, associations, elected officials, and candidates have joined together to oppose Amendment 1! But the monopoly utilities continue to spend millions to deceive voters.

Don’t be fooled. Amendment 1 will continue to move customer-owned solar out of reach for many of Florida’s families and businesses, and drag state solar policy backwards. Vote No.

Learn more here – VoteNoOn1.org

To become law, Amendment 1 would need the approval of at least 60 percent of voters.

3 Ways to Have Your Voice Heard on Clean Water

From our partners at the Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce:

Follow the links in the PDF to take action on letting our elected officials know how important the health of the water is to all of us, and sign the Now Or NeverGlades Declaration.

[gview file=”http://blog.sccf.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Attention-Chamber-Members-Your-Action-is-Needed-NOW1.pdf”]

And Thank You to everyone who’s signed!

Quick Action Needed on Water Quality Standards for Harmful Chemicals

Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 26, the Florida DEP is asking the  Florida Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC) to approve allowing  higher levels of  89 known carcinogens and/or human health-based toxic chemicals in Florida’s rivers and estuaries.

Please take a moment to send the formatted letter or compose your own letter to the ERC today to object to allowing higher pollution levels in Florida’s waters.

DEP’s proposed criteria are significantly weaker than the federal EPA  (Environmental Protection Agency) recommendations. If approved these chemicals would be allowed in our drinking water, shell fishing areas, swimming and fishing waters at significantly higher amounts than EPA recommends.

The time to speak out against this is Today. Help us protect Florida’s water quality by sending a letter today.
act now

The ERC will be live-streamed tomorrow online.

Webcast details are as follows:
DATE:  Tuesday, July 26, 2016
TIME:   9 a.m.
WEB ADDRESS: Access webcast here. Click on ERC LIVE webcast button.

Request Emergency Storage in EAA Now!

Rubio RAW

Wessel speaking with Senator Rubio on water quality issues in Southwest FL

We are pleased to report that our trip to Washington DC to attend the Lagoon-Gulf Action Day sponsored by Congressmen Curt Clawson and Patrick Murphy, and local meetings here in town the past week with Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, affirmed agreement and progress on the possible passage of a federal water bill this year. A water bill, known as the Water Resource and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) and funding for a key project in the bill, the Central Everglades Project (CEP), could be achieved if the bill is passed this year.

While this step is necessary to keep Everglades and estuary restoration moving forward, there is no immediate emergency plan to reduce the ongoing excessive releases the estuaries have suffered through the past five months. Ultimately, the solution is twofold: additional storage and an alternative outlet for water discharge from the lake.

There are two opportunities at hand the Governor can initiate that in no way affect passage of the WRRDA bill. We ask everyone to contact the Governor and urge him to immediately take these two critical actions.

  1. Immediately negotiate use of 16,000 acres of state-owned land currently leased to Florida Crystals for sugar cane production and use this land for emergency storage to relieve the estuaries of some of the excess water flow.  Storage of three feet of water on the 16,000-acre A-2 parcel could redirect 13,441,246,000 gallons from discharging out the estuaries. The South Florida Water Management District owns the land in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) that will be eventually be used for a Flow Equalization Basin as part of the Central Everglades Project.
  2. Direct the SFWMD to accelerate planning for the EAA Storage project from its current start date in 2020 to this summer in conjunction with the Lake Okeechobee watershed Storage Planning effort. Following requests made at the SWFL Ecosystem Task Force meeting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy committed that she would agree to accelerate the project if the Governor would accelerate it.  We can’t afford four years to begin planning. The time to begin is now.

If we want change, it is mandatory that we make some noise. The status quo will only change if we demand it.   Please take a moment to use this pre-addressed form to send your own message to Governor Scott.

act now

Will We See A Repeat of 2013 Water Issues? Take Action Now

Sanibel Aerial June 2 compared to June 26_Page_6

Courtesy City of Sanibel

With the support and leadership of Senators Lizbeth Benacquisto and Joe Negron, Representative Heather Fitzenhagen  and Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane, the time is now for us to ask Governor Rick Scott, DEP Secretary Jon Steverson, the  SFWMD Governing Board and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to accelerate the EAA water storage project to reduce damage from  high flows to the estuaries!

Our estuary and the Everglades need your support. Please take time to craft a message on the form provided here. Your letter will automatically be directed to these decision makers when you hit the send button so use the information below to craft your own message and send it today. Our estuaries cannot survive continued excuses, delays, and  business as usual.

So far in 2016, flows to the Caloosahatchee from Lake O have already received 77% of the flow we relieved in all of 2013.  This years high flows have already delivered 10% greater total phosphorus than that received in 2013 and 84% of the total nitrogen load in 2013. The Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries are  once again suffering significant harm from high water discharges. Right now the Caloosahatchee has blue-green blooms over 27 miles of the river and estuary.

NASA Okee Algae

NASA photo from July 2nd showing the extent of the algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee – 33 square miles.

Excessively high volumes of freshwater this dry season have devastated the estuary that serves as the nursery for our commercial and recreational fish, their bait fish, and the local blue crab industry.

High flows have washed the estuary salt/freshwater mixing zone into the Gulf of Mexico and dumped massive loads of nutrient laden silty muck sediments downstream.

Additional water storage is needed in all sectors of the greater Everglades, but south of the lake a significant volume of storage can be achieved to protect the dike and communities below the lake and relieve unwanted estuary discharges.

The time is ripe to reprioritize an existing CERP storage project in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).

The EAA storage project is listed on the master list of projects, called the Integrated Delivery Schedule (IDS), but is not scheduled to begin planning until four years from now in 2020.

Estuary conditions and our economy cannot and should not continue to suffer damage when a  project can be accelerated to speed up the central solution, the storage project in the EAA.

This is NOT a new project to add to the list. We simply ask that the existing project be moved up the list and accelerated because it is necessary and fundamental to addressing concerns about the security of  the Lake O dike, flood protection for communities living around the dike, water supply for the Everglades and agriculture and  would relieve estuary high flow discharges.

Accelerating this project to begin this summer complements the SFWMD decision to start water storage planning north of the lake. It is more economical and efficient to address storage needs both south and north of the lake concurrently.

While storage north of the lake can help with timing and water quality treatment for the lake, it  does not address storage needed for rain that falls in the lake, its watershed, or south in the EAA. Only southern storage can address that capacity.

Storage south can address a wider scope of issues and stakeholders concerns and provides more opportunities  than any other single location.

Tell the SFWMD, Gov. Scott, DEP, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers there are better options!

  act now

Your Donations at Work: Providing Scientific Input on the Lake Okeechobee Releases

darkwater2116At SCCF, we know the best way to address the current water quality crisis is by working with like-minded leaders in well-informed cooperation. Your support allows SCCF to inform policy with science.

On February 9, SCCF Natural Resource Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel sent an action alert urging SCCF members to write to the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) about the very high volume of dark water and polluted runoff coming down the Caloosahatchee into the estuary waters surrounding our islands.

Captioned RAWOn February 10, Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane — who has also been actively urging Sanibel residents to get involved — convened a meeting of the mayors of Lee County’s six municipalities. Rae Ann was invited to join the elected officials to inform the discussion with science and context for the issues which she has been engaged in for the past 20 years.

Rae Ann and the SCCF Marine Lab scientists coordinate with the City of Sanibel, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and our other regional partners in preparing a weekly Caloosahatchee Conditions Report, that provides a snapshot of local water conditions. Rae Ann prepares the report, which goes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the SFWMD, Florida Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, our congressional and state legislative delegations, elected County  and City officials and various local stakeholders. The weekly report is science-based, reporting data from SCCF’s RECON water quality sensors and additional targeted sampling by marine lab staff.

On February 11, Governor Scott called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take immediate action to stop the releases of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. By the end of that day, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued orders that allow the state operational flexibility in managing  water.

At the federal level, the U.S. Army Corps pursued a deviation to move water south under Tamiami Trail through the Shark River Slough. These operational changes represent an incremental step in “pulling the plug at the bottom of the system” so the system can operate the way Everglades restoration is intended to work.

Yesterday, on February 15, water had started to move south. With over-saturated conditions throughout the system, it will take weeks to reduce the discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, and we feel the impact of these actions.

Whether it’s a local development issue, water management practices, or funding for local water quality projects, there are few others in Southwest Florida who can bring the knowledge and expertise that Rae Ann does to the issues facing our region. We are so grateful to the SCCF members who support her work through their Annual Fund Drive gifts.

donate now

Take Action on Lake Okeechobee Releases

Redfish Pass 1-31 Leland GarvinJanuary 2016 was the wettest since record keeping began in 1932 with 570% of average rainfall according to the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).  The unusually high rainfall is associated with a very strong El Nino condition that is expected to cause significantly higher rain through April.  This means our normal dry season will likely be a washed out, dark water from high discharges may impact our beach tourism economy and high flows will impact the estuary spring spawning of fish, shellfish and seagrass.

There are short and long term actions we are asking water managers to take.  Please use the  information in this message to send your thoughts to them asking them to take action on these options to Stop the Harm.

Please write to the SFWMD Governing Board!

Please use some of the talking points below to write a custom email to the South Florida Water Management District. Governor Scott and the Lee County Board of County Commissioners.

The problem

  •  Lake O water levels are rising despite unlimited releases to both coastal estuaries.
  •  Today the lake is 16.4 ft nearly a foot above the lake level management zone, 3 feet above average for this time of year.  The last time the lake was this high was December 2005.
  • Due to heavy rainfall throughout the region the majority of our flows -over 80%- are coming from the watershed between the lake and western lock where the water enters the estuary.
  • The graph (right) shows where Caloosahatchee water comes from. The last week of January, 12% of the inflow was from Lake O (blue color),  82% was from our watershed (gray and green). Most of January there was no flow from the lake.
  •  Very high rainfall the last week of January produced flooding and excess water throughout the greater Everglades ecosystem. While the Corps of Engineers was engaging emergency discharges to lower the lake, the SFWMD was simultaneously backpumping from two structures south of the lake adding 47,000 acre feet of polluted water back into the lake. This required the Corps to further increase discharges to the estuaries.
  • Backpumping must be stopped because it moves the problem from south of the lake to the estuaries.  The water  should instead be held on the 700,000 acres of farmland between the lake and Water Conservation Areas and Stormwater Treatment areas.
  • When emergency conditions exist, we must engage these lands to store water and not move it into the lake where it creates additional strain on the lake and ultimately will be discharged to the coastal estuaries.

Storage is the Solution

  • The ultimate solution is storage. The priority location where there is no storage is south of the lake.
  • Over 20 years of scientific studies and reports have cited storage south of the lake as the one solution that would provide benefits for many parts of the system.
  • Storage south of the lake would benefit Lake O,  reduce excess , harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, would provide additional water supply for Ag in the EAA (Everglades Agricultural Area) and provide needed water for  the Everglades and Florida Bay.
  • In addition to storage south of the lake 280,000 acre-feet of storage capacity is needed in the Caloosahatchee watershed. The SFWMD determined this additional storage was needed after the devastating discharges in 2005. That event highlighted that the Caloosahatchee watershed needs a total of 450,000 acre-feet of storage, a great deal more than the 170,000 acre-feet of the C-43 West Basin Reservoir. In 2005 the District Executive Director pledged to Sanibel City Council that they were identifying locations where water could be held so we would not have a repeat of that harmful event.
  • 11 years later the District has only just started construction on the C-43 reservoir which will take four
  • years to complete. C43 will provide approximately one quarter of the watershed storage needed and only in a restricted region south of the river. We need another 280,000 acre-feet of storage capacity in other areas of our watershed.

11 Years Is Too Long To Wait
We Need to Act now on Short term and Long Term solutions.  We urge the District to consider the following:

Short term

  • We ask the SFWMD not to exacerbate the problem of high water levels in Lake O by backpumping.  Initiate discharges from the lake to all other public and private lands in the C&SF system including the 700,000 acres of EAA land.
  • To address funding we ask the SFWMD revisit the tax rate they have rolled back year after year.  A rate of less than $10/year/household.  These roll backs have significantly hampered the District’s budget and operations.  How much more are we spending in emergency operations every few years?  Projects provide a better Return on Investment than emergency operations
  • We urge the SFWMD to work with the state legislature to Support the Legacy Florida bill HB 989/SB 1168  and  use Amendment 1 funding to build the storage needed south of the lake and in our watershed.
  • Add monitoring stations in the Caloosahatchee watershed between the locks to determine where the excessively high flows originate.
  •  Identify projects in those high flow areas where projects can be pursued.

Long Term

  • Reopen the discussion and restart planning for storage south of the lake where benefits will be gained for the lake, estuaries, agricultural water supply, Everglades and Florida Bay. Sanibel Mayor Ruane and U.S. Rep Curt Clawson are meeting with property owners south of the lake to negotiate options.
  • Support a 2016 WRDA bill to authorize and appropriate funding for projects.

  act now

Don’t let Tallahassee cut local voices out of Babcock Ranch.

babcock-ranchTomorrow, November 24,  the one and only public meeting to take input on a 10 year management plan for Babcock Ranch is being held by the Florida Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry. This plan has been drafted in Tallahassee without input from local land managers.

Take Action Now!

The plan:

  • Rolls back water, wildlife and habitat protections in the current plan and deemphasizes the critical values, protections and projects provided by Babcock lands for critical water resources such as Telegraph Swamp and Telegraph Creek and needed water quality projects.
  • Expands cattle, timber and row crop uses without limits to assure sustainable harvest or sustainable habitats are maintained to support  protected species.
  • Cypress harvesting and stump harvesting has been added back in where it was prohibited in the current plan on Lee County land.
  • Requires only 1 environmental assessment over the 10 year period while timber, cattle, hunting, burning and other resource activities are ongoing. Environmental or ecological damage will not be identified or management activities adjusted in real time to prevent further damage if you don’t do this concurrently with annual management decisions. We ask that environmental assessments be done annually in conjunction with ranch management activities.
  • Makes no distinction between the property in Lee and Charlotte counties even though the5,620.36 acres in Lee county were purchased by Lee County  taxpayers through an ad valorum tax assessment known as Conservation 2020. As a result the land in Lee County has a review and management process in place that they have paid for and that must be recognized and accommodated in the plan.
  • All references to the Lee County Land must reflect this distinction and be referred to as the Bob Janes Preserve. Any management changes must come before the appointed Conservation Land Acquisition Stewardship Advisory Committee (CLASAC) and be adopted by the BOCC.
  • This draft plan rolls back nearly all the educational and learning lab components in the original plan and references only “master naturalists’ as an interested volunteer group. There are many, many other groups involved and interested.

Why the Rush? The plan is scheduled to go into effect in August, 2016. Why schedule a single public meeting the Tuesday before Thanksgiving with nearly no advertising for the public? Transparency and inclusiveness are fundamental in public land management. This meeting has provided neither.   We strongly urge the Department of Agricultureto schedule a well advertized public meeting to discuss the 10 year management plan.

The meeting was not widely advertised so most local folks who worked on the acquisition effort don’t even know about the meeting. The draft plan was not included with the meeting notice and not easy to find and the meeting is scheduled for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving when most folks won’t be able to attend.  Not very transparent or inclusive.

We are asking everyone who can attend to join us tomorrow just up the road in Punta Gorda, to provide public comment and request another local meeting for input.   If you cannot attend please take action with this alert and follow up with emailed comments you may have with the plan.   Below are a few of our concerns and a link to the draft plan for your use.

No one fought harder for the acquisition of this land – the state’s largest preserve – than the local community. Dont’ cut out our local voices.

Tell the Department of Agriculture you want a voice on Babcock!

Meeting Time:   Meeting begins at 11:00 a.m, Public Comment  taken from 11:30 – 12-30

Location:      Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center
75 Taylor St., Myakka Rooms A & B
Punta Gorda, FL 33950

Link to Draft 2015 Management Plan

Link to 2008 Management Plan

Florida Bay in Crisis

FL BayWhile the Caloosahatchee has been getting sufficient to excess rainfall the past year, Florida Bay, located at the southern end of the Everglades ecosystem is facing serious ecological damage from an ongoing drought that has been isolated over the lower east coast and Everglades.  The severe drought has persisted for the first 8 months of 2015 with that region suffering from 87% below normal rainfall.  With no connection to Lake O and low inflow from the Water Conservation Areas, rainfall is critical to provide needed freshwater to Everglades National Park and Florida

The drought conditions and lack of flow have caused hyper-saline conditions of 60-70 psu, over twice the normal salinity.  The lack of freshwater flow has also dessicated soils upstream and even exposed some to salt that will take sustained freshwater flow over a period of time to flush out.  Add to this high temperatures in the shallow bay and the oxygen drops to harmful levels.  Sulfide accumulation in the bay bottom combined with high temperature and hyper-salinity has triggered a seagrass die off.  The dead seagrass decomposes feeding algal blooms that further drop oxygen levels and obscure light from getting to grass that could provide oxygen. This downward spiral is the anatomy of an ecological collapse that literally takes decades to recover from.  Unfortunately we’ve seen this before. It was just such an unfortunate series of events that conspired in the 1980s that brought attention to the need for Everglades restoration and prompted an expansive seagrass research program in the Bay.

 

2015 ConditionsThe solution is in Everglades restoration, and some help from mother nature in the form of rainfall.  Full implementation of the C111 spreader canal project and advancing the Central Everglades Planning Project, known as CEPP, are critical to getting water moving south at the southern end of the system.  Operational changes that prioritize water supply deliveries to natural systems -as envisioned in Florida’s Model Water Code- instead of prioritizing the growing demand from  permitted users, is needed here and throughout Florida to maintain healthy, resilient natural resources that are the driving force of Florida’s economy.

Floridians for Solar Choice

Floridians for Solar Choice is spear headed by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and has been endorsed by  more than 50 organizations so far that include  Conservatives for Energy Freedom, Florida Retail Federation, Florida Solar Energy Industries Association, Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy, Christian Coalition, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Republican Liberty Caucus of Tampa Bay, Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida, and Libertarian Party of Florida.

Over 100,000 petition signatures have been gathered so far. Join the effort to collect petitions from registered Florida voters.  We have a petition station in our Nature Center, and encourage volunteers to come forward to  help  collect signatures on petitions at local events and clubs.  This is also a great program for students looking for community credits so spread the word.

The initiative needs financial support to fight the misinformation campaign  by Florida Power and Light and get the facts to voters. We support and encourage donations to support this worthy effort through flsolarchoice.org.

Together we can create clean, affordable energy, clean jobs and put the Sun back in the Sunshine State.

Sign the Petition Here

You can print a copy of this petition and submit it provided you do not change the size in any way (don’t reduce it).  Signed petitions can be  brought or sent to SCCF (3333 Sanibel-Captiva  Road on Sanibel, 33957; for mail:  P.O. Box 839 on Sanibel).

Learn more about the Floridians for Solar Choice Ballot Effort

Florida is 1 of 5 states that do not allow third-party Solar PV Power Purchase Agreements. 

Learn more about solar financing:
Third-party ownership of residential solar systems allows homeowners to avoid high, upfront system costs and instead spread out their payments over time. It also often puts some or all of the responsibility for system operation and maintenance on the third-party owner. Currently, more than 60% of homeowners who install solar take advantage of third-party ownership. The two most common third-party ownership arrangements are solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs). Click here for printable PDF, Homeowners Guide to Solar Financing

Business leaders of Southwest Florida tell Gov. Scott to “Buy the Land!”

Letter to Governor Scott and the 2015 Legislature from business leaders of Southwest Florida

By Dreamtime Entertainment, compliments of Jensen’s Twin Palms Marina.

Speakers included the following:

  •  John Lai, Lee County Hotel Association
  • Sandy Stillwell, Stillwell Enterprises
  • Shane Spring, VIP Realty
  • Paul McCarthy, McCarthy’s Marina and Captiva Cruises
  • Marty Harrity, Doc Ford’s Rum Bar
  • Jim Collier, Tarpon Hunters Fishing Club
  • Denice Beggs, Beggs Realtors
  • Ann Brady, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
  • Eric Pfeifer, Pfeifer Realty
  • Dall Burnsed, Santiva Saltwater Fishing
  • Bud Nocera, Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce
  • Sarita Van Vleck, artists and resident
  • Nancy MacPhee, Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau

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Realtor Study Links Water Quality to Home Values

New research by Florida Realtors, The Impact of Water Quality on Florida’s Home Values, shows that the effect of polluted water on homeowner property values is a potential decrease of nearly $1 billion in Lee and Martin Counties.  Click here for a PDF of the study.  Click here for the Florida Realtor website and other research studies.front page

Study highlights:
As water degrades, home values decrease nearly $1 billion in Lee and Martin Counties alone.(Lee County $542 million and Martin County $428 million.

  • Property values decline when water quality is poor.
  • Property values increase when water quality is good.
  • When polluted water from Lake Okeechobee is dumped into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers and estuaries, water quality is devastated

This study was supported in part by the Everglades Foundation.